Monday, January 25, 2010

Practical Caregiving advice

Easy, practical caregiving advice – what a concept!

Too often family caregivers are overloaded with information. Getting on the internet often just compounds the problem, as hundreds of resources pop up – some great; some awful; sometimes hard to tell the two apart.

Last week, we visited my husband’s cousin in the hospital. This lively, energetic, independent 76 year old woman got hit by a car walking out of the supermarket last weekend. She was in the cross-walk and had looked both ways. A distracted driver simply didn’t see her, slamming into her right in the crosswalk.

The good new – her roasted chicken was saved. The bad: her lower leg was broken in about 6 places.

Her doctor has drawn a picture of her leg on a white board on the wall. I'm sure she shared it with everyone who visited - probably up until her discharge. It gave her, and us, a way to visualize her injuries. Now, if he had also put her treatment plan there, we could have visualized that, too, and how we could help.

And that’s where my mind went as I read the easy, practical advice from David Solie today on his blog titled "Hospital Quicksand: words are not enough."

Solie suggests buying a small dry erase board and writing what’s going on during a hospital stay, and what should happen afterward. Keep it simple and clear. Help the person hospitalized – and their family – make sense of what is often a confusing, overwhelming experience.

I love the example of Ellen, who wrote on her mother’s board on discharge day:

1. New Medication > Reduces fluid build up > take one every day
2. Walking > strengthens heart > 15 minutes, twice a day
3. Follow up > family doctor > 2 weeks.

Simple. Clear. Easy. As Solie says, “The board costs four dollars. The marker two dollars. The ability to understand and preserve control: priceless.”

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